[CITIZENS' Mail - (21-03-2017)]

What’s next for buses?

The bus rapid transport system (BRTS) - similar to what was experimented in the Rajagiriya area last week- is reported to have been initiated in 1974 by Jaime Lerner who was an architect and the Mayor of Curitiba in Latin America. A comprehensive article written on the subject by Nicholas Hollman appears in the “Development and Cooperation” magazine of November-December 2016 (www.dandc.eu).

After its initiation it has spread to all parts of the world as the BRT system is expected to be fast, convenient and reliable. To quote from the article: ‘The big advantage of the BRT systems is that they are considerably cheaper to set up than metropolitan railways, which need a track system to be laid out, or underground railways, which require expensive tunnels to be dug. Per kilometer, a BRT route generally costs no more than 10% of what an underground railway route would cost, and 30 to 60% of what a tram route would cost. BRT is particularly interesting for poorer regions –provided the road space is available.’

One week is too short a period to assess the success of a BRT system. It depends on many factors like feeder bus services, cooperation of the bus crews, dedicated bus lanes, support from commuters and bus companies.

The buses that ply on the dedicated lanes should keep on moving, stopping at bus halts only for not more than two minutes. (Some of the worst offenders are 168, 150, 173 and 276 –if the Transport Ministry is keen to take action).

They should not stagnate along the route especially during the rush hour to overload the buses to earn more revenue, thus harassing the passengers. They should be satisfied with moderate profits.

Efficient supervision is an absolute must if the BRT system is to give the expected benefits to the commuters. The BRT system is meant to provide convenience and fast transit to the less affluent classes of our society who cannot afford their own vehicles. Once the services become efficient and effective the vehicle owners will also use those services.

M C Mathupala


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